Papa’s Pizzaria… Pizza Not Included.

My wife and I recently had dinner at Papa’s Pizzaria, and I recognized this as an opportunity to write a local food review.

Growing up in the 80’s, Papa’s Pizza and Romano’s Pizza before that, were the social center for most of Rio Linda and Elverta. It was located behind what is now the Creekside Diner, and after every Little League game, Football game (Pop Warner… Go Falcons!) and other events, everyone met at Papa’s Pizza for pizza, breadsticks and beer. Then Mar-Val closed, and they moved to the new Food Source shopping center.

One of our favorite things in high school was the Calzone. A folded pizza pocket, deep fried, filled with pizza toppings and cheese with a pizza sauce for dipping. My wife’s favorite was the square burger. A 1/2 lb. patty with cheese, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions and Canadian Bacon on thick sliced french bread.

So, these were what we ordered. No pizza… not this time.

Papa's Pizzeria Square BurgerFirst, the Square Burger with fries. The burger is no longer served on french bread, but on a french roll, and it’s a great change. Soft bread, toasted and tasty. The burger itself was great. Flavorful, dripping, and filling. The lettuce was shredded like it has always been and the tomato was ripe and juicy. They don’t skimp on the cheese or the beef… or the Canadian Bacon for that matter.

But the real stars here are the fries. I don’t know how or why, but Papa’s Pizza has always had the best fries I’ve ever had. Crispy on the outside, hot and fluffy on the inside, with just enough salt. Better than In and Out, better than Burger King, way better than McDonalds… but on par with Lou’s Burgers fries. Excellent, even today.

You might find a better burger, but you’ll have to do some real searching.

Unfortunately, the Calzone hasn’t fared as well over the last 20 years.Papa's Pizzeria Square Burger

It came piping hot, deep fried golden brown, sliced in half, oozing with mozzarella cheese.

…But it was tasteless. I remarked at the time that it tasted like cardboard, but I really think cardboard has more flavor. One side had most all of the toppings (mushroom and sausage) while the other side was nearly empty of all but mozzarella. The mushrooms by themselves were fine, but the sausage was very disappointing. It was pre-processed pellets, the same style you’ve find on a frozen pizza from the grocery store. It had a very mealy texture and very little flavor. The sauce was fine, but not remarkable.

The price for two entrees, a salad, a beer and a soda was $25.11.

So, you take the good and you take the bad. The Square burger was so good I saved half for lunch the next day. The calzone was left on the table.



Other notes:

  • I’m pretty sure my $6 mug of beer was 10 ounces. Smallest beer mug I’d ever seen.
  • They no longer have breadsticks at the salad bar.
  • Really nice people working the front.


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